Everything old is new again and that’s definitely true for drive-in theaters. This summer, they’re making a huge comeback, thanks to the new norms of maintaining social distance and the need for families to enjoy some fun activities that don’t involve staying at home. For people of a certain age, they can recall the glory days of watching movies from the comfort of a car and all the hi-jinks that ensued. For younger generations, it’s a whole new experience.
In either case, going to the drive-in is loads of fun for friends and family. There’s just something about snuggling up with your own blanket and pillow from home. Plus, for kids (and some adults), it’s the perfect excuse to wear your pajamas outside the house.
Because movies don’t start until sundown (around 8:30 p.m.) and double-features often run past midnight, everyone is ready for bed by the time they get home. (For triple features, don’t expect to be home until after 1 a.m.) Little ones are known to fall asleep, well before the second feature ends.
Then, there is all the food and drinks! You can bring all of the snacks, treats and beverages you love from home. This is especially helpful for families on a budget because the cost will be much cheaper than what you’d pay at the concession stand.
Seasoned drive-in attendees know to keep a cooler full of ice in the trunk, so all of the drinks are ice-cold from from the sneak previews to the end credits of the second feature (or, sometimes, third.)
In addition, most drive-in theaters sell everything from popcorn and candy to hot dogs and pizza. And somehow snacks at the drive-in just taste better…maybe, it’s the summer evening breeze, combined with the film’s soundtrack and laughter from cars echoing in the night air.
Have a plan. It’s always a toss-up to find the person willing to make the trek all the way to the concession stand in the dark and, then, safely lugging everything back to the car with dropping the popcorn or spilling the soda. Rock, paper, scissors!
The season of drive-in theaters typically runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Dates vary by locations, so check first.
In addition, some screen movies every night of the week, while others are strictly a weekend affair from Friday to Sunday. Review each website for complete details and current titles showing on the big screen.
For most, the days of speakers and dangling wires are long gone. Sound is transmitted via the FM radio in the car.
Ticket prices vary by theater, but are often around $10 per person. (Remember, the price is usually for a double-feature, so it’s always a bargain.) Plus, kids are often at a reduced rate or admitted for FREE (depending on their age.)
Plus, the number of cars allowed, depends of the size of the drive-in lot — ranging from 50 to 300 cars. Because of their renewed popularity, it’s wise to get there early for tickets.
However, many locations sell tickets online (some exclusively), so that’s your best option to ensure you reserve a spot. Many tickets are selling out weeks in advance, so plan accordingly.
Each venue has a different policy, as to what’s allowed — everything from bottled beverages (alcohol!) to chairs, as well as pets. (If pets are allowed, they will definitely need to be on a leash.)
Typically, most everything is acceptable to bring along, except anything potentially dangerous or hazardous. Some locations don’t allow you to sit outside your car, while others do with certain requirements.
Just be sure to review the drive-in’s policy beforehand, so you’re not turned away at the gate.
Due to the pandemic, many drive-ins are operating under new guidelines and policies. As a result, the information provided may vary. In addition, many have changed how they manage its concessions, including what’s available, how to order and what payments are accepted.
Be sure to review all of the policy changes before buying tickets, so everyone is ensured a positive experience.
Denver Metro Area
451 E. 58th Ave. in Denver
Denver’s “Urban Outdoor Theater” is conveniently located at I-25 and 58th Ave. Its digital projection system throws to the largest outdoor screen in the area at 80’ x 40’, with FM transmission to provide the ultimate viewing experience from the comfort of your own car.
8780 Rosemary St. in Commerce City
The drive-in is the last of its kind in the Denver metro area. The theatre has been serving the community since 1972 and has been family-owned since 1976. The owners are passionate about giving families the greatest outdoor cinema experience — thanks to its giant screen, state of the art digital projector and 35mm film capabilities.
2206 S. Overland Trail in Fort Collins
Much like the 88 Drive-In Theatre, the Holiday Twin Drive-In is the last of its kind in Fort Collins. The theatre is located near Horsetooth Reservoir, so, in addition to what’s showing on the big screen, expect lots of amazing views.
They’re one of the more unique drive-ins because they offer two screens, each showing a double-feature. Just review its current schedule, so you can decide which side you want to park on for the perfect pairing of flicks for your family.
3 miles West on Highway 306 in Buena Vista
Nestled at the head of the Arkansas Valley, at an elevation of 8,000 feet and surrounded by magnificent peaks, the drive-in is not only noted for its beautiful view, but also for being the highest in elevation of any drive-in in the United States. Built in 1966, it has remained a family business ever since. New digital projection was installed in 2018 and offers 4K digital clarity.
801 Ed6 in Minturn
The Blue Starlite is “the high rockies one and only drive-in movie theater.” They accommodate 30 to 50 cars each night. The owners concentrate on childhood favorites, drive-in classics, indie films, art house, cult and Gen X/Y pop culture faves.
2830 US Highway 160 W in Monte Vista
Not quite your typical drive-in theatre experience, it’s definitely one of the most one-of-a-kind ways to enjoy a summer blockbuster. One of the world’s most unique lodging concepts, the Best Western Movie Manor is attached to a historic drive-in movie theatre.
Guests can watch movies on the big screen, right from the comfort of most rooms. Minimal single bed rooms have beds facing the movie. Rooms with two beds do not have a movie view directly from the bed. However, all rooms have tables and chairs for movie viewing.
They have two movie screens. The first screen is visible from the room, while the second screen requires guests to drive-in to the property — all free of charge. To verify movie schedule and season dates, call in advance at 719-852-5921.
600 E. Miami Rd. in Montrose
The theatre has the great distinction of being the oldest standing drive-in theater in Colorado. Since opening back in 1950, they offer lots of hometown nostalgia for all who visit. This year, marks its 71st year of continuous family ownership. For frugal film fanatics, they offer a Colorado Radio Discount Night every Tuesday, when they’re operating on a full-week schedule.
2625 Santa Fe Dr. in Pueblo
Since it first opened in 1951, the outdoor theater is Pueblo’s longest standing drive-in. They’re often referred to as “Old School Outdoor Cinema” with all of the requisite memories from days long gone. Making it extra special is that they offer three screens, all playing double-features. Plus, they’re open seven nights a week. Right now, they remained closed for the 2020 season.